The Rhapsody in Red, White & Blue project by composer Peter Boyer and pianist Jeffrey Biegel continues to expand its reach, following a hugely successful premiere with the Utah Symphony, with performance commitments from 53 orchestras in 49 states, nearing the fulfillment of its highly ambitious 50-state goal.

In addition, stretching beyond the United States to achieve an international presence, Boyer and Biegel will record the new Rhapsody with the world-renowned London Symphony Orchestra for the acclaimed Naxos American Classics Series.

Biegel, a prolific and gifted pianist with an extraordinary record of commissioning new works for piano and orchestra, commissioned Boyer to compose a new work in celebration of the centennial of George Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue (1924). For the last three years, Biegel has tirelessly pursued a highly ambitious “Rhapsody National Initiative,” with the goal of performing Boyer’s new work with at least one orchestra in each of the 50 United States. As of this writing (updated 11/2/23), with 53 orchestras in 49 states confirmed to perform the work through 2026, only one state (Rhode Island) remains to achieve the fulfillment of Biegel’s ambitious vision, and that final confirmation is expected soon.

The following orchestras and conductors are participating in the “Rhapsody National Initiative” (as of 11/2/23):

01 Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony (SD), Christopher Stanichar, conductor
02 Arapahoe Philharmonic (CO), Devin Patrick Hughes, conductor
03 Augusta Symphony Orchestra (GA), Dirk Meyer, conductor
04 Brevard Symphony Orchestra (FL), Christopher Confessore, conductor
05 Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (NY), Stuart Chafetz, conductor
06 Butler Philharmonic (OH), Scott Woodard, conductor
07 Central Ohio Symphony (OH), Jaime Morales-Matos, conductor
08 Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (MN), Dirk Meyer, conductor
09 East Tennessee Symphony Orchestra (TN), Jeremy Francisco, conductor
10 Endless Mountain Music Festival (PA), Stephen Gunzenhauser, conductor
11 Evanston Symphony Orchestra (IL), Lawrence Eckerling, conductor
12 Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra (ND), Christopher Zimmerman, conductor
13 Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (VA), Christopher Zimmerman, conductor
14 Greater Bridgeport Symphony (CT), conductor TBD
15 Gulf Coast Symphony (FL), Andrew Kurtz, conductor
16 Idaho State Civic Symphony (ID), Nell Flanders, conductor
17 Juneau Symphony (AK), Christopher Koch, conductor
18 Kamuela Philharmonic (HI), Brian Dollinger, conductor
19 Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra (WA), Michael Miropolsky, conductor
20 Las Cruces Symphony (NM), Ming Luke, conductor
21 Lubbock Symphony Orchestra (TX), David Cho, conductor
22 Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (DE, MD), Michael Repper, conductor
23 Mid-Texas Symphony (TX), Akiko Fujimoto, conductor
24 Missoula Symphony Orchestra (MT), Julia Tai, conductor
25 The Missouri Symphony (MO), Wilbur Lin, conductor
26 Montgomery Symphony Orchestra (AL), Jamie Reeves, conductor
27 Muscatine Symphony Orchestra (IA), Brian Dollinger, conductor
28 New England Music Camp (ME), Simon Gollo, conductor
29 New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra (NH), Mark Latham, conductor
30 New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJ), Helen Cha-Pyo, conductor
31 North Charleston Pops (SC), Nick Palmer, conductor
32 North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra (MS), Steven Byess, conductor
33 Orchestra Omaha (NE), Kenneth Meints, conductor
34 Pacific Symphony (CA), Carl St.Clair, conductor
35 Paducah Symphony Orchestra (KY), Raffaele Ponti, conductor
36 Peninsula Music Festival (WI), Rune Bergmann, conductor
37 Rogue Valley Symphony (OR), Martin Majkut, conductor
38 Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (WA), Juan Felipe Molano, conductor
39 Shreveport Symphony (LA), Michael Butterman, conductor
40 Signature Symphony (OK), Scott Seaton, conductor
41 South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (AK), Kermit Poling, conductor
42 South Bend Symphony Orchestra (IN), Alastair Willis, conductor
43 Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra (AZ), Linus Lerner, conductor
44 Southwest Symphony (UT), Lucas Darger, conductor
45 Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA), Peter Boyer, conductor
46 Traverse Symphony Orchestra (MI), Kevin Rhodes, conductor
47 UNLV Symphony Orchestra (NV), Taras Krysa, conductor
48 Utah Symphony (UT), Benjamin Manis, conductor
49 Vermont Youth Orchestra (VT), Mark Alpízar, conductor
50 Western Piedmont Symphony (NC), Matthew Troy, conductor
51 West Virginia State Philharmonic Orchestra (WV), Scott Woodard, conductor
52 Wichita Symphony Orchestra (KS), Daniel Hege, conductor
53 Wyoming Symphony Orchestra (WY), Christopher Dragon, conductor

Boyer’s 18-minute Rhapsody was premiered on June 30, 2023, with Biegel and the Utah Symphony conducted by Benjamin Manis, on the opening night of the Deer Valley Music Festival in Park City, Utah. An outdoor audience of more than 3,000 rewarded the new work with a prolonged standing ovation — a reaction which has been repeated by audiences at each subsequent performance thus far.

An impressive array of notable artists from the classical and pop music fields have endorsed the “Rhapsody National Initiative,” including David Foster, Neil Sedaka, Emanuel Ax, Leonard Slatkin, JoAnn Falletta, Melissa Manchester, and Charles Strouse. An especially meaningful endorsement came from Marc Gershwin, nephew of George Gershwin, bringing the imprimatur of the Gershwin family to the project. With prominent orchestra executives included also, the project has received more than 25 endorsements.

“I can’t wait to witness this incredible collaboration celebrating 100 years of one of the world’s most treasured compositions, Rhapsody in Blue, with my dear friend Jeffrey Biegel at the piano. No one brings the essence of Gershwin and his genius more to our ear than J-man — as I like to call him. He, like Gershwin’s music, is world class! What a fantastic idea to commission the uber-talented Peter Boyer to help celebrate this milestone with his composition, Rhapsody in Red, White & Blue. […] Congrats to all involved — I will be cheering from the sidelines!!!”
David Foster, 16-time Grammy-winning composer, pianist, songwriter, producer

The Rhapsody in Red, White & Blue will be recorded with Biegel as soloist, and Boyer conducting the London Symphony Orchestra at the famed AIR Studios, Lyndhurst Hall on November 27, 2023. Simon Rhodes, Senior Engineer at Abbey Road Studios, known for his work on projects such as the first two Harry Potter film scores, the Avatar film scores, and hundreds of classical albums and other film scores, will produce and engineer the recording. Naxos will release the Rhapsody recording in February 2024, coinciding with the centennial of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (which premiered on February 12, 1924). Both Boyer and Biegel are Naxos artists. This will be Boyer’s fourth recording for the American Classics Series, and his third recording with the LSO as composer and conductor.

The commission of Boyer’s Rhapsody in Red, White & Blue was made possible through a generous consortium of sponsors. The Billy Rose Foundation was the lead sponsor of the commission, and is the exclusive sponsor of the recording.

A perusal score and complete demo recording of Boyer’s Rhapsody may be found here.

A video of excerpts from the Utah Symphony premiere may be found here.

“Peter Boyer’s Rhapsody in Red, White & Blue is a vibrant new work reflecting the American landscape, the pulse, energy and beauty of our shared identity as Americans. The Rhapsody is fun to play, fulfilling for a pianist with exciting rhythmic vitality and soaring, beautiful, songful melodies. I am proud to have created the Rhapsody National Initiative, and excited to bring this to present day audiences.” — Jeffrey Biegel